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American Chopper Host Caught in Tangled Bankruptcy

Law Office of Ronald V. De Caprio Jan. 9, 2019

Personal bankruptcy can be a smooth process that can provide significant relief from overburdening debt. Occasionally, however, the real world intervenes, and the bankruptcy process becomes extremely tangled. Paul Teutel, the host of the Discovery Channel’s popular program “American Chopper,” is embroiled in a personal bankruptcy in the Southern District of New York that involves at least two significant complications.

Teutel is the owner of a 2009 Corvette ZR1 that is currently in the possession of a firm that was hired to customize it. The car is now able to reach 60 miles per hour in 3.2 seconds and reach a top speed of 200 miles per hour. For these and other improvements, Teutel was charged $51,000, which he has not paid. Now, Teutel wants his Corvette to be returned, in part, at least, because he doesn’t want to pay the storage fee of $50 per day. The hearing on Teutel’s motion to regain possession of the car will be heard by the bankruptcy judge.

Teutel is also facing a motion by a private-equity firm located in Rockland County to add $500,000 to Teutel’s list of debts. The firm claims that Teutel borrowed the funds and failed to disclose the debt on his list of creditors. A third creditor, M&T Bank, is asking the court to lift the automatic stay so that it can complete foreclosure proceedings on Teutel’s estate. The bank claims that it will suffer irreparable harm if it is not allowed to complete foreclosure proceedings and pay outstanding real property taxes. The home is currently on the market for $1.65 million.

The news report on Teutel’s bankruptcy makes several references to Teutel’s attorneys, and he therefore appears to be represented in the bankruptcy proceeding. The fact that a major debt went unreported in Teutel’s initial filings gives rise to the inference that he does not always follow his lawyer’s advice. This case demonstrates that a bankruptcy debtor owning significantly amounts of real and personal property would likely benefit from the right legal information about the bankruptcy proceeding.